Homeschooling – Level 1

Our first official month of homeschooling is in the books. The way is twisted and full of tricky steps, but so far we are weathering the transition as best we know how at this time. I found Khan Academy to be my anchor as it provided a very simple platform from which to set up both math and computer science studies. They offer so much more that we may eventually look into, but we are taking it slow for now. We are using  Crash Course and Extra Credits for a lot of our history and social studies and if you have never given those two a look then I cannot recommend it enough. They really do a great job of making learning fun and entertaining – as it should be. We tried a few Ted Talks and although I personally love them Grant thought they were a little less engaging and preferred the other two, so I suppose we will stick with that for now.

Creative writing is one of the areas we really hoped to focus on. Currently the main project is writing some articles for Plant Powered Gamers, mostly game reviews and musings on video game material in general. Don’t be surprised to see our blossoming little writer posting quite a few times this year. Please encourage him if you have a chance and leave him a note of anything you’d like him to try out, review or ponder!
For Foreign Language studies he decided to try learning Japanese and we are using Duolingo, Japanese from Zero! and Japanesepod101 as well as some simple printable sheets I have found on the web to work on the lettering system. I have some experience with this language and though I’m far from fluent I think we will likely make great progress working together. Eventually I will look into some of the English-Japanese speaking connection programs and apps out there. When I last studied Skype was the only option but I know this has expanded.

We have a fresh sketchbook which Grant has begun working in already and I’ve encouraged him to pretty much doodle anything he likes in it. So far he has designed a few game layouts and of late that is his favorite subject to draw and create. We are also working on sketching some of his favorite enemies and characters from games he likes. We both agreed this would be great to work on so that he would be able to better put his ideas to paper when he is designing things for games. We are working on ideas for a little comic strip as well which we may finish up and use as a web comic. I’ve always wanted to give that a try anyway, so it’ll be a fun project. Painting is a hard sell with Grant. I really hope to work on it through the year and perhaps as he becomes more familiar it will become more enjoyable. He currently struggles with frustration but aren’t all things a little frustrating in the beginning?

Grant is also tackling several chores around the house to help out. This is one of the places I feel like homeschooling really shines – to teach basic life skills. We are pretty light on the chores for now but I really hope to emphasize a lot of these as we go forward. He hopes to learn to cook several basic meals and help with a lot of the house cleaning by the end of the year.

There has been a lot of focus of course on game design, which was one of the things Grant was most excited about adding to his school day. We have only touched on some fundamental computer science and programming but I really hope to bring the percentage of work in that area up pretty high. He is currently working his way through the basics of Java and HTML and we agreed that when he has finished those initial courses we could look into Game Maker Studio 2. We already have and use Construct 2 but it seems that while Construct 2 is good for simpler “mobile-style” games that the Game Maker Studio would be more appropriate for larger scaled PC or Console games. We shall see and perhaps we can even do a comparison/contrast article for the benefit of others who might be headed down this road after us.

Wish us luck as we continue forward!

Mid-summer Musings

July has already made its way to us, or perhaps we to it.  Mid-summer in the southeast really encourages one to take an occasional lazy day, or at least midday, in order to avoid the ridiculous heat and humidity.  This coupled with lots of time doing rather brain-free tasks in the yard of late has left us with plenty of time to ponder plans for the coming year.

Grant is fully in summer mode, loving the freedom and questioning why that sort of freedom ever has to end.  I realized that there was honestly no good answer to that question.  This left us once again returning to the discussion on trying homeschooling.  I have wanted to homeschool Grant since he was born.  I admit it may be more appealing in my imagination than the reality, but I love trying new things, new approaches and time with him is never a waste in any case so it’s hard to imagine how this couldn’t be a fun and exciting experience.  Grant is a straight-A student, having made it now though to the 6th grade and has never made less than 90% marks on his grade reports, so I know that it isn’t the case that he is just being lazy.  When a solid and productive student like that can be so incredibly dissatisfied with what they are doing and the things they are learning it just sets warning bells off for me.

Thankfully there are more resources on homeschooling than I could use in a lifetime, so I am in no fear of running out of methods, plans and ideas.  Currently we are leaning towards the “unschooling” or “Sudbury” methods.  I believe he has some pretty solid interests in science and technology and that will lead us into the other necessary subjects as they become needed.  He also quite the fan of fantasy literature and we have a great library to facilitate which is just a few miles down the road.  I am hoping to encourage him to do both some creative writing as well as outlines and scripting for his YouTube channel.  It is actually pretty exciting thinking up all of the ways we may be able to follow his interests and focus education to be very personalized.

Now this was not the intended focus of my writing when I began this, but then my focus shifts like the wind in regards to what I feel up to sharing.  I’ll be sure to share anything that we run across that seems amazing enough to be duplicated and of course I may mention our progress in passing or perhaps regularly, according to how interesting it seems.

In any case I have to give a link (that is like a digital shout-out) to the two pages that are acting like hub-worlds for my research and planning:

Bright Horizons Academy

This is the cover school that we chose to use.  They cover anywhere in Alabama and allow complete curriculum flexibility.  They also provide a massive list of links for great homeschooling information and inexpensive/free material.  This was the list that actually led me toward the unschooling information which I really was not even aware of until about a month ago.

Stories of an Unschooling Family

This page is actually a blog written primarily by a mother of several homeschooled children.  They have been unschooling for several years and it was great to see how that process unfolded for them as it gives me some insight as to what to expect.  As a bonus she does vlogs and a podcast and being Australian, she has a pretty awesome accent.

If any of you, my dear readers, know of any other great resources be sure to leave me a comment and let me know.  Wish us luck!

Grow Strong. Game On.